Barbara Tyrwhitt Drake – Tonga

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Item Number: 2061

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Barbara “Bobbie” Barclay Tyrwhitt Drake. Barbara arrived in Australia from England in 1942 as a member of the official Royal Navy party. In 1945 she married William Tyrwhitt-Drake, an English farmer who had taken up the run known as Tonga fronting the Piries-Goughs Road, with his brother John in 1926. It was her third marriage and his first and there were no children. Born in 1906, the only child of Dr Charles Theodore Ewart and Kate Ewart (formerly Flint), at Claybury Hall, Essex, Barbara spent her youth in small private schools, strolling the English moors with her pet goat, and at the Cuban plantation home of her maternal aunt. At Tonga she bred champion dachshunds and basset hounds and kept a regular supply of pedigree breeds. Visitors to the property will recall the careful signs up the drive – “Stop for Dogs” and “Beware the Black Killers of Tonga” – the last referring to a splendid pair of rottweilers who never did any harm to anybody. Both Bobbie and Bill Drake, who died in 1982, were fierce defenders of animal rights and wildlife and Mansfield police records will show that there were telephone calls from Tonga every Sunday for years when gunshots were heard locally. Tonga was one of the first properties in the Mansfield district to have “Private – No Shooting” signs on all public fences. The Drakes were well known on Mt Buller where Bill would ski every Thursday and Barbara would party most spectacularly every so often. An extraordinarily glamorous woman, she was an icon in gold lame and ocelot on the mountain in the 1960s. Barbara went on to win water ski racing colours as a driver when well into her 60s and had a brief splurge with Formular Vee cars. Barbara died on 13/12/1994 and as requested Barbara was cremated without a funeral. (Information taken from the obituary in the Mansfield Courier at the time)

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